The nation's top track and field coaches are currently assembled in Orlando, Florida for the annual USTFCCCA convention, which began on Monday.
One of the highlights of the annual convention is the presentation of The Bowerman Wednesday night to the country's top collegiate track & field athlete of the year, as the USTFCCCA continues to add value to make the trophy presentation on a par to football's Heisman Trophy and basketball's Wooden Award.
I've been a media voter for the Bowerman Award for the last several years, and have always felt that it's my obligation to let the readers know who I voted for and why.
Due to other obligations, I did not attend either the NCAA indoor or outdoor championships this year; however, I did get to see all six finalists (Brigetta Barrett of Arizona, Kori Carter of Stanford, Brianna Rollins of Clemson; Derek Drouin of Indiana, Lawi Lalang of Arizona and Julian Wruck of UCLA) compete in person at least once.
My vote for the Bowerman:
I went with Derek Drouin of Indiana (left/photo by Paul Merca), the NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump champion, who went undefeated both indoors and outdoors during the collegiate season, jumping 7-8 1/2 (2.35m) indoors, and 7-8 3/4 (2.36m) outdoors, before topping that mark with a jump of 7-9 3/4 (2.38m) at the IAAF world championships in Moscow.
Though it was in a losing effort, I was actually impressed with his 7-8 3/4 jump at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, where he went toe to to with Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, before Barshim got the win at 7-10 1/2 (2.40m).
Though he won the NCAA 5/10 double outdoors, and the mile/3k double indoors, the quality of marks Lawi Lalang put up wasn't that good relative to the marks put up by Drouin. Wruck put together a solid series of throws during the season, capped by a best of 223-7 (68.16m) in the discus in Claremont, California shortly before the NCAA championships in Eugene, which he won.
Looking back at my ballot, I should have gone Drouin-Wruck-Lalang instead of Drouin-Lalang-Wruck.
That was an easy choice--Brianna Rollins (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Clemson, the NCAA indoor and outdoor hurdles champ and collegiate record holder indoors and outdoors.
Rollins in my opinion put together one of the most dominating performances of the collegiate season, not losing a final, and not losing 17 races indoors and outdoors, cumulating with an impressive 12.39 run in the finals of the 100 hurdles at the NCAA championship race, a collegiate record.
After the collegiate season, she won the finals of the 100 hurdles at the IAAF world championships in Moscow.
Any other year would have given Arizona's Brigetta Barrett my first place vote for the Bowerman, as she went undefeated during the collegiate season, and set a collegiate record in the high jump of 6-6 1/4 (1.99m).
Kori Carter of Stanford's record in the 400 hurdles any other year would have given her at least a second place vote, with Carter sweeping the Pac-12 and NCAA titles, and setting a collegiate record of 53.21, not to mention going undefeated in final races.
Finalists were chosen by the Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2013 track & field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are used in consideration. Voting for the The Bowerman includes members of the Advisory Board, media personnel, statisticians, collegiate administrators, along with past winners and online voting by fans and USTFCCCA members.